DIARY: Blackrock Clinic

Dr. Patrick Duggan is a doctor of sports medicine at the Carysfort Clinic in Blackrock and I have consulted him in the past before working more extensively with John Murphy the physiotherapist at the clinic.

After hearing my story, he decided to bring me back tomorrow to conduct a full array of blood tests. Afterwards, I'll be send to the Blackrock Clinic to undergo three standard tests for athletes with suspected underlying conditions causing unexplained performance drops: Stress ECG, Chest X-Ray and ECHO.

The bloodwork should establish if I have problems with my iron, protein and other standard values such as liver conditions etc.

The stress ECG checks whether there is any abnormalities in my heart while I exercise. This may find an explanation for why my heart rate was so high yesterday and the heart flutter I have experienced on two occasions since the panic attack in 2009.

ECHOcardiographic stress test detects unequal distribution of blood to exercising muscles created by blocked arteries. One side of my family has very strong hearts while the other have a history of heart attacks and high blood pressure, so it's not entirely without depridation I undertake the tests, but I need to know with full certainty what is working as it should and what doesn't.

Chest X-ray looks for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is an abnormal thickening of parts of the heart. It also will show if lungs are looking alright and the how the different chambers and arteries of the heart compare to each other in general.

So, once the results come in, I obviously hope that nothing serious comes back which would be surprising I suppose seeing as I don't feel ill as such, rather I've got a few weird symptoms and a chronic failure to perform athletically.

From that perspective, I hope there's a simple explanation and that it can be easily remedied. If the tests find nothing, at least I can rest safe in the knowledge that I can push myself to the absolute limits without damaging myself. I used to feel indestructible but the panic attack changed that as it came out of nothing (and I don't like the name as it sounds like you are prone to panics when in fact it was caused by overtraining which triggered a malfunction of the sympathic nervous system which following respiratory alkalosis where blod pH is increased through hyperventilation (again causing one to exhale excess carbon dioxide in relation to oxygen in the bloodstream).

That it came to that point showed the obsessive compulsive levels of training I was willing to push myself through back then. After, I've been rather more apprehensive, and perhaps yesterday's race showed that I have crossed too far into the cautious zone. This way, if all that comes out of the tests is an "all-clear" I will face future hard training with a relaxed mind.

The other scenario would be that I have a problem with something simple such as iron levels known to cause athletic performance issues. This information would be worth it's weight in gold to quickly and decisively help me overcome my slump and not waste time training hard for no results.

If not, at least I can focus solely on addressing my training errors and not chase red herrings.